Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

Rainbow Spaghetti & Art Class Sugar Cookies Inspired by Jackson Pollock

Art Class - Sugar Cookies and Rainbow SpaghettiJ has been taking an art class at a friend’s house since the end of October. Sadly, we only have one class remaining. She gets to paint and glue plastic jewels (which she LOVES) and I get to see friends. The class is an hour and half and includes a snack/lunch break for the kids.

At the start of classes, we signed up to take turns as “snack mom”. Each week of art has a theme and it turns out that snacks were also themed accordingly. I signed up for Jackson Pollock week and crossed my fingers that I could come up with something creative for a meal — after all, this is (kids) art class!

Painters Palette Sugar Cookie

The painter’s palettes look a little like brown pac-mans.

I knew I would make decorated sugar cookies for dessert. After some internet searching, I decided to make an artist’s palette and splatter design à la Mr. Pollock. Deciding what to serve for lunch proved to be a little more challenging as I wanted one stand-out item on the plate. I found a rainbow pasta recipe which looked easy, portable and kid-friendly.

I made the cookies first since I let them dry over night and needed two nights to work on them. Actually, it was three nights total. The first night I baked and cooled the cookies. The second and the third were spent decorating. Here is the sugar cookie recipe. I made 4″ round cookies for the painter’s palette and 2″ squares for the splatter design. Surprisingly, I don’t have a painter’s palette shaped cookie cutter in my arsenal of 100+ cutters.

I made chocolate royal icing for the palettes since they had to be brown. I added a bit of brown food color to make them a deeper brown. I didn’t want my palette to look like balsa wood.

Jackson Pollock inspired Splatter Design Sugar Cookie

I put one painter’s palette cookie and two of these little “paintings” in each bag that I gave to the kids.

For the white royal icing, I used some that I had frozen from Halloween. Yes, it really does freeze well!! I had it stored in two zip top bags and let it thaw on the kitchen counter. It may have taken 30 minutes to soften, which was really quick.

After piping and flooding the round and square cookies I let them dry overnight. The next night was the fun part! I took the remaining white icing and divided it into five bowls. I made red, yellow, green, blue and purple for the “paint”. It was flood consistency as I wanted it thin enough to splatter across the white cookies.

By now you are probably wondering where all the photos are of the cookie decorating process. Well, I was too tired to stop and take photos. And at night the light is very bad for picture taking.  So sorry!

I used a toothpick to drip the colors onto the painter’s palettes. For the splatter, I lined up all of my cookies next to each other in a giant square. Then I dipped a spoon into the icing and let it drip onto the cookies. It was a lot of fun to do and super quick.

Art Class - Painting in the style of Jackson Pollock

J is using a toy elephant to apply green paint on her canvas.

During J’s art class, the kids each made a splatter paint picture…or at least as close as three and four-year olds can come to replicating Pollock’s style.

Oops, almost forgot to talk about the spaghetti. So here’s the dichotomy of my rainbow spaghetti. I used organic spaghetti noodles and then soaked them in artificial food dye. Am I the only one that finds this humorous?! I do have natural food coloring that I will use if I ever make them again.

Rainbow Spaghetti noodles

I cannot think of anything less appetizing than blue noodles. However, the kids loved it!

Is it a surprise that I made a couple changes from the original recipe? Here is my version:

Rainbow Spaghetti
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine: American, Kid
Serves: Varies
  • 1lb Spaghetti or linguine noodles
  • Food color (four or five colors)
  • Water
  1. Boil noodles according to package directions
  2. While noodles are cooking, mix food color with ½ cup of water in a color-safe bowl. (One that won't soak up the dye -- not a wooden bowl.)
  3. The amount of food color needed will vary depending on the intensity of color desired and if it's gel or liquid food color. I used ⅛ of a teaspoon of gel per bowl.
  4. Drain and rinse with cool water (that step was painful for me...I never rinse my pasta!)
  5. Divide pasta evenly among bowls and make sure the water covers most of the noodles.
  6. Let sit for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even color distribution.
  7. Gently rinse noodles to remove excess food color.
  8. If serving immediately, mix noodles together and toss with butter or olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. If saving for later, stir in a few drops of olive oil to each color of noodle to ensure they don't stick together. Keep colors separate until you're ready to serve so the color doesn't run. Store in bowls or baggies in the refrigerator.
  10. Note: One pound of noodles was about a half pound too much for 10 preschoolers.



Thanksgiving Pot Pie Recipe – Calling All Left Overs

Thanksgiving Pot Pie served with saladAh, Thanksgiving left overs. They are as coveted as the big meal itself. But what to do with all of those leftovers in one easy and delicious recipe? Enter the Thanksgiving Pot Pie – not to be confused with a turkey pot pie.

Awhile back I mentioned that Curt lurrrves chicken pot pie. Well, this baby just about tops them all. And the best part is that if you’ve made Thanksgiving dinner, chances are you have all of the ingredients on hand.

With all of my recipes and cooking, I use organic ingredients when possible. This year I bought two organic turkeys for Thanksgiving (Curt smoked one on our green egg and I cooked one in the oven). Ever buy an organic turkey? If you have, you’ll know why I am using every part of the turkey (ahem, I have 7 quarts of turkey stock). Those babies are expensive!! I managed to make almost all of the Thanksgiving meal organic, which means this pot pie is also organic. Ok, stepping off soap box now.

First, I started with a deep dish pie pan to make this recipe. I set it on top of a sheet pan in case the juicy deliciousness of the pie decided to escape while cooking. I don’t want to clean up the bottom of my oven and I doubt you do either.

Deep Dish Pie Plate

Then I got the pie crust I had made earlier in the morning out of the refrigerator. I recently discovered this Sour Cream Pastry Crust. I used the sweet version for my pumpkin pies and the savory version (minus the sugar) for this Thanksgiving Pot Pie. If making pie crust is not your thing, buy one at the grocery store and you’ll be good to go. You need two crusts. Roll them flat and put one in the pie pan and set one off to the side.

Pie Dough

Don’t be afraid of pie dough! It takes some practice but it’s not that difficult.

The pie is filled with left overs and topped with gravy. I didn’t have enough left over gravy (so I thought), so I made some out of the extra turkey stock I had from the initial round of gravy making. Confused. I may be. Three tablespoons of flour, three tablespoons of butter and about 2-cups of stock are what I used.

Turkey Gravy

I used homemade turkey stock for yummy gravy.

Next, I rounded up my ingredients. This is where it will vary, depending on what you have left over. I had stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and of course, turkey. I cut the beans to about 1-inch pieces and I made sure the pieces of turkey were bite size. I’m reasonably sure most savory left overs would taste wonderful in the pie. Curt asked if I could put pumpkin pie in it, and I politely dismissed his suggestion.

Thanksgiving left overs make great pie ingredients

I used stuffing, green beans, turkey, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes in my Thanksgiving Pot Pie.

Time to assemble! I put a layer of cranberry sauce on the bottom. It’s a nice little surprise and I think even people that don’t like cranberry with appreciate the mouthwatering zing. Next I layered turkey, stuffing and beans.

Layer ingredients in the Thanksgiving Pot Pie

I gently pushed each ingredient down to make sure the pie wouldn’t be 12″ tall!

I poured the gravy over the pie and topped with mashed potatoes.

Thanksgiving Pot Pie

The last layer of pie is mashed potatoes. If you wanted to make this more shepard’s pie style, you could stop here and not top with pie crust.

Finally, I put the second pie crust on top. Before I did this, I brushed the bottom edges of the pie with egg wash to use as glue to make sure the top stuck. I fluted the edges together to make sure they were sealed and brushed more egg wash all over the pie. Be sure to cut vents in the pie. I had a little piece of dough left so I made a crude looking leaf of some sort and stuck it in the center.

Thanksgiving Pot Pie Uncooked

I think it weighed 6 pounds before cooking!

I baked this baby for about an hour and 15 minutes. I saw some of the gravy bubbling out of the side and I knew it was done.

Thanksgiving Pot Pie Cooked

Yes, this looks impressive!

I let it rest for 10 minutes before serving with a salad. Oh, and I topped with giblet gravy left over from Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Pot Pie served with salad

Thanksgiving Pot Pie Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: serves 8
  • 2 deep dish pie crusts
  • ½ cup cranberry sauce
  • 1 cup turkey
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 1 cup stuffing / dressing
  • 2 cups turkey gravy
  • 1½ cups mashed potatoes
  • 1 organic egg
  1. Roll out both pie crusts. Put one inside the pie dish and set the other aside.
  2. Add ingredients in layers: cranberry sauce, turkey, stuffing, green beans, gravy and mashed potatoes.
  3. Beat the egg and brush onto the edges of the bottom crust.
  4. Cover with the second pie crust.
  5. Crimp edges together.
  6. Brush top of pie with egg wash.
  7. Cut vents in the top.


Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe

Sweet & Sour PorkA little while back, I made Sweet and Sour Pork because I had an extra pork tenderloin on hand. No, it’s not as strange as it sounds. I made Simply Recipes’ Panko Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Dijon Cream Sauce and I only used one of the tenderloins that came in the package. I always forget that they usually sell them in pairs. They’re so squished up in the vacuum sealed package that you can’t tell what you’re buying! BTW, that recipe is DELICIOUS and easy. I will be making it when we have company over for dinner because it looks like it took a lot of effort but it doesn’t.

Back to the stir fry…So I had a pork tenderloin and decided to make one of Curt’s favorite dishes. As I Googled recipes, I couldn’t find one that I liked, so I modified this Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe. I like to put a lot of veggies in my stir fry so that is the main modification from the original (aside from the fact that I’m using “the other white meat”). I didn’t account for the increase in volume of ingredients compared to the amount of sauce. For me this wasn’t a problem, but Curt said it needed more sauce. Yes, he’s a sauce man.

In the recipe below, I’m doubling the amount of sauce from the original. If you think it’s too saucy, well, you can suck it. HA.

First I took my tenderloin and cut it into 1″ cubes. I put it in a bowl with the egg white and cornstarch. I let it hang out on the counter while I cut up the vegetables and measured out the other ingredients.

Sweet & Sour Pork - Tenderloin

Sweet & Sour Pork - Tenderloin Marinade

Sweet & Sour Pork - Sauce

You will have twice as much sauce as seen here.

I mixed the pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, salt and brown sugar in a measuring cup. Remember, I should have doubled the recipe (which I did in the list below). Your measuring cup will be twice as full – yep, that’s double.

Then I cut up an onion, red pepper, celery, and garlic. I grated the ginger with a micro-plane.

Sweet & Sour Pork - Chopped Vegetables

I busted my wok out of the depths of my cupboards and got it nice and hot. I added the oil, tested the temperature with a splat of water and then added half of my pork. After a minute I turned the pork and let it cook another minute or so. The idea is just to sear, not thoroughly cook the pork.

Sweet & Sour Pork - Tenderloin Saute in Wok

Put the pork on a plate and cook the other half of the pork. The amount of oil in the ingredient list is a guideline and you will probably need more. I had to add more oil for the second batch of pork and then more oil for the vegetables.

Sweet & Sour Pork - Pork Seared

The first time you cook the pork, the idea is to get it nice and crusty on the outside, not cooked through.

Once the second batch of pork was done, I turned the heat down to medium and sautéed the onions and celery for a few minutes, then I added the red pepper, garlic and ginger. After a few more minutes I added the pineapple pieces and sauce.

Sweet & Sour Pork - Vegetable Saute

Crank the heat and put the pork and any juices on the plate back into the wok. Cook for a few minutes until the pork is done…which the USDA now says is an internal temperature of 145°F. At this temperature your pork will be a little pink. If the sauce looks too runny, add a slurry of 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water.

Sweet & Sour Pork - Pork Vegetable Sautee

Serve over rice. I sprinkled some chopped chives on top of mine because I thought it needed some color.

Sweet & Sour Pork

The recipe is below. Use organic ingredients whenever possible. The least you can do is buy antibiotic and hormone-free pork.

Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dinner, Main Dish
Cuisine: American-Asian
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 pound of pork tenderloin, cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1 organic egg white
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons organic cornstarch (plus 1 tablespoon if sauce is too thin)
  • 1 10-ounce can pineapple chunks (reserve juice)
  • ½ cup juice from the canned pineapple
  • ½ cup organic white vinegar
  • ½ cup organic ketchup
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons organic brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons organic vegetable oil
  • 1 small organic yellow onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 stalks organic celery, sliced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 organic red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon organic minced garlic – about 3 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh organic ginger
  • 2 tsp Organic Chives or Scallions for garnish (optional)
  1. Combine the pork, egg white, salt and cornstarch in a bowl. Stir to coat the pork evenly. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Mix the pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, salt, and brown sugar in a measuring cup or bowl.
  3. Heat a large frying pan or wok on high until a bead of water instantly sizzles and evaporates. Add the oil and swirl around the wok. Add half of the pork in one layer. Fry until the bottoms are browned, about a minute. Flip the pork and cook another minute. The pork is not cooked, we’re just searing. Put the pork on a plate and cook the other half using the same method. Add more oil to the pan if it looks dry. It’s ok if there are bits of the coating stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Lower the heat to medium and add another tablespoon of cooking oil. Let the oil heat up and add the onion and celery. Fry for a minute then add the bell pepper, garlic and ginger. Fry for another minute and add the pineapple chunks and the sweet and sour sauce.
  5. Turn the heat to high after adding the sauce, then add the pork and juices back into the wok. Simmer for several minutes, until the pork is cooked.Use an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature. Add more cornstarch if the sauce is too thin.
  6. Serve over organic rice and top with chopped chives or scallions.


I Got Stuffed at Betty’s Pie Whole

Betty's Pie WholeIt’s a restaurant…get yer mind outta the gutter, sheesh!

Betty’s Pie Whole is an adorable little restaurant and bakery on the corner of Encinitas Blvd and Quail Gardens Road (Encinitas, CA – that’s in San Diego). It’s in the Sunshine Gardens lot.

I’ve been here twice, both times after visiting the Botanic Gardens with J and her friends / my friends (i.e. play date or playgroup).

Betty's Pie Whole - Get Along Lil' Kielbasy Pie

Get Along Lil’ Kielbasy Individual size pie

The first time I ate here I ordered the individual size Chicken Pot Pie. This time I ordered the individual Get Along Lil’ Kielbasy Pie. Oh my, is this good! The crust has savory herbs (sage and I don’t know what else) and inside is poultry kielbasa, red potatoes, mushrooms, spinach and béchamel. I like to pretend it’s good for me since I’m eating my spinach…just ignore the cream sauce and flakey butter pastry that envelopes the ingredients like a cozy edible blanket.

Betty's Pie Whole - Mississippi MudJ gets an individual Mississippi Mud Pie for lunch. Yes, I let my daughter eat pie for lunch. Don’t judge. It doesn’t happen everyday. This is the description of the pie, according to Betty’s web site: Chocolate shortbread shell is filled with Belgian chocolate pudding,  house-made marshmallow, brownie chunks, butterscotch swirls, and finished with two kinds of chocolate drizzle! 

Now I’ve tasted this little bit of chocolately heaven and it is delish! My odd ball child won’t eat the hand made marshmallows, she prefers Jet Puffed. Kids!

There is a nice room to enjoy your meal and also an outdoor space where you can let your rug rats run free while you lick every last crumb out of the bottom of the pie tin (oops, I didn’t mean to say that outloud). The decor is saloon / western style with a little bit of humor — a toilet with a jade plant sits outside of the restrooms.

Betty's Pie Whole - Uncooked Individual Pies

They put a cute little “c” on the Chicken Pot Pie!

Here’s another GREAT thing about Betty’s Pie Whole, you can take a pre-made, uncooked pie and bake it at home (individual and full sizes)! Since Curt’s favorite food is chicken pot pie, I decided to be a nice wifey and bring one home. I also bought another Kielbasy. If you’re going to eat the pies that night, just refrigerate them. But if you want to serve in a day or two, they recommend freezing. You can cook straight from the freezer but it will add quite a bit of cooking time. Ask for printed cooking directions when you buy your pie.

After tasting the Chicken Pot Pie and the Kielbasy side by side at home, I will say that I prefer the chicken. BUT, don’t get me wrong, the Kielbasy is great. I would (and will) order it again. And the chicken.

For more information, visit Betty’s web site or stop by 155 Quail Garden Dr. Encinitas, CA 92024

Sausage, Mushroom & Broccoli Calzone Recipe

Sausage, Mushroom & Broccoli Calzone PlatedThis is a hybrid of other calzone recipes found online and also born out of necessity and my lack of ingredients. It’s the day before Halloween and I have the ingredients to make pizza. Only problem is that we’re having pizza with friends tomorrow night so I’m trying not to duplicate dinner two nights in a row.

I figured calzone would be a good alternative. Only problem being that most recipes call for ricotta to make it moist inside. Well, I have cream cheese…couldn’t be that bad as a substitute, right?

First, I took my pre-made pizza dough out of the refrigerator and cut it into four equal pieces. I use a bench scraper to cut the dough but a knife would work just as well. I use the scraper to clean the pizza stone too. (This is probably not a recommended use, but it’s better than dulling my cooking knives and it works great!) I placed the pieces of dough on a lightly floured pizza peel so they could come to room temperature and rise a bit. (I forgot to take a picture of this step.)

I also preheated my oven to 475° F and put my pizza stone in the middle rack. The secret to pizza with a crispy bottom crust is a hot pizza stone. Same goes for calzone. Sometimes I forget to turn on the oven and heat the stone because I’m so anxious to cook (riiiight). But don’t you do that!

I sliced a package of organic crimini mushrooms and threw them into a small non-stick pan with a bit of olive oil. You could use button mushrooms if you don’t have brown. I french cut a small organic yellow onion and added that to the mushrooms. I let them cook on medium-low heat until the mushrooms started to soften. Then I added a cup of organic broccoli florets. After a few minutes I added three cloves of organic garlic (chopped), a teaspoon of dried organic basil, a teaspoon of dried organic oregano, a pinch of kosher salt and a few turns of fresh cracked organic black pepper. I let everything cook until the broccoli was soft, a few more minutes.

Calzone - sauteed mushrooms, onion and broccoli

Side note: I have a small pan that I use for sauteeing ALL. THE. TIME. It’s the only thing I purchased from “As Seen on TV” that was not a gag gift. In fact, I got the deal where you get two pans and only pay S&H for the second pan. I gave the extra to my good friend she still uses hers. This was several years ago!

And now back to calzone…while the vegetables were cooking, I mixed about a half cup of organic spaghetti sauce with 4 oz of organic cream cheese, softened. It combined fairly easily, but looked pretty gross. I thought of dog barf. I don’t own a dog. Remember, this is my hack since I didn’t have ricotta. If you have it (ricotta), go ahead and use it.

Calzone Cream Cheese and Spaghetti Sauce

I remove the vegetables from the pan and added four sliced pre-cooked italian sausages. If you have fresh sausage, go ahead and use it. Squeeze it out of the case and break it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. I browned the sausage and then added it to my bowl of veggies.

Calzone Sliced Sausage

I let the veggies and sausage cool for a few minutes, then I added the dog barf, umm, I mean cream cheese and sauce mixture.

Calzone Sausage Cheese Mixture

Now it’s time to assemble!

I took one of the pieces of pizza dough and stretched it out to about a 1/4″ thick oblong disc. Maybe a little thinner. Make sure there are no holes in the dough. Add as much filling as you can to half of the disc while leaving enough room to fold the dough over. Add a handful of shredded organic mozzerella cheese to the mixture. Fold over the dough and pinch the edges together. It will look like it’s about to burst.

Calzone Assembly

Repeat for all remaining pieces of dough. You may end up with extra filling. I did and I put mine in the refrigerator. I hate to waste food so I will find a way to use it. I’m making mini-frittatas tomorrow and I may add the mixture to my eggs.

Carefully place the four calzones on the pizza stone. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.

Serve with warmed spaghetti sauce.

Sausage, Mushroom & Broccoli Calzone Plated

Sausage, Mushroom & Broccoli Calzone Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
  • 1 package organic crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small organic yellow onion, frenched (chopped would be fine too)
  • 1 cup organic broccoli florets, small pieces
  • 3 cloves organic garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried organic oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried organic basil
  • ½ cup organic spaghetti sauce
  • 4 oz softened organic cream cheese (or ½ cup ricotta)
  • 4 pre-cooked italian sausage links (or fresh)
  • 1 cup Shredded organic mozzrella cheese
  • Spaghetti Sauce for dipping
  1. Preheat oven to 475° F.
  2. Cut pre-made pizza dough into four pieces and place on a lightly floured pizza peel or cutting board.
  3. Saute mushrooms and onion in olive oil until soft. Add broccoli, garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Cook until broccoli is just softened. Remove from pan.
  4. While vegetables are cooking, mix spaghetti sauce and softened cream cheese (or ricotta) in a small bowl.
  5. Add sliced sausage (or uncooked sausage) to the pan and brown. If using fresh, cook thoroughly. Add the browned sausage to the vegetable mixture and let cool a few minutes.
  6. Stir the cream cheese into the vegetable sausage mixture.
  7. Stretch dough into discs and add the sausage mixture to one half. Sprinkle mozzerella on the mixture and fold the dough over to form a pocket and seal the edges.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving with warmed spaghetti sauce.


Fitbit One
The product names and logos shown on this site are the trademarks of their respective owners.